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Thad Jones

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Thaddeus Joseph Jones (March 28, 1923 – August 21, 1986) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader.

He was born in Pontiac, Michigan to a musical family of ten (an older brother was pianist Hank Jones and a younger brother was drummer Elvin Jones). Thad Jones was a self taught musician, performing professionally by the age of sixteen. He served in U.S. Army bands during World War II (1943-46).

After the war, Thad Jones continued his professional music career, eventually winding up with Count Basie in 1954, for whom he arranged, composed, and performed. He stayed with Basie for nine years. Thad achieved critical acclaim during this time, but not for his work with Basie. Much of Jones’ music was stylistically original and didn’t always fit in with the Basie group which he left in 1963. In the early sixties he became a free lance arranger and performer in the New York area.

In 1965 he and drummer Mel Lewis formed the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band. The group initially began with informal late night jam sessions amongst New York’s top studio musicians. The group eventually began performing at the Village Vanguard, to wide acclaim, and continued with Jones in the lead for twelve years. In 1979 they won a Grammy Award for their album Live in Munich. Jones also taught at William Paterson College in New Jersey.

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